9-8-12 Toronto at Regina 1175-XL

Andrea Cecchini Ready For Strong Leadership Role With Regina Rage in 2013

LFL360.com, Mark Staffieri

One of the fan favorites for the Regina Rage in their inaugural season, Andrea Cecchini is excited for the opportunity to compete again in 2013. Having missed the postseason by one game in 2012, it proved that the green and white could compete with the finest teams in LFL Canada.

In 2012, Cecchini was one of the stalwarts for Regina on defense. Having logged 18 solo tackles (including three for loss) and two sacks, she emerged as one of the top defensive performers in the entire league. As Regina boasts of the league’s strongest fan bases, Cecchini believes that the squad can improve on their previous season,

“I am very excited about this upcoming season. I feel like all the cards are in place for the Regina Rage to be a contender for the 2013 LFL Cup. Not only do we have an excellent coaching staff, we also have a very talented group of athletic women.”

With a new coaching staff (featuring her husband, former NFL and CFL player Brent Hawkins), Cecchini is optimistic that the new coaching structure puts the team in a much better position. During the 2012 campaign, coaching problems forced LFL US superstars Nikki Johnson and Tessa Barrera (who both played for the Rage in 2012) to pull double duty as coaches.

“Last year started out a little rocky for us with no coaching guidance going into our first game. This year is much different. With Coach Hawkins’ extensive football background and Assistant Coach Pugh’s extra eyes and knowledge we have had the opportunity of learning how to play at an elite level.

It also helps that there has been an increase in athleticism with both rookies and returning vets, raising the competition bar even higher.”

As one of the team captains for the Regina Rage in 2012, Andrea Cecchini is ready to take on a bigger leadership role in 2013. With the absence of LFL US talent for the 2013 campaign, Cecchini is ready to learn from her 2012 experiences and ensure that the new crop of rookie talent can benefit from her knowledge.

“As a vet, it is natural to want to step up and help the ladies coming into this league. There are four Rage veterans returning this year so we all share that role of leadership. I was privileged enough last year to be named a captain and again this year, so I think that gives me even more drive, knowing that my team looks up to me.

We were able to be mentored by some of LFL USA’s greatest so I hope to pass that knowledge on and be someone the girls can look to for guidance.”

For Cecchini, the appointment of her husband Brent Hawkins to the position of head coach also represents a historic moment in the history of LFL Canada. There has never been a husband and wife both involved with a Canadian franchise before.

During the 2012 season, Hawkins was a strong supporter of Cecchini’s involvement in the franchise and was always ready to provide her with advice to improver her game. With Hawkins officially on-board in 2013, the Rage is more than just a family affair; it is an opportunity for the newer players to share in the knowledge of a former professional,

“I have a feeling there will be more questions like this to come. I am glad the LFL has confidence in Brent and myself to set a good example and pave the way for others in the future.

It was very exciting to be part of LFL Canada’s first inaugural season and to add to that excitement being able to work with my husband and make LFL history is a blessing.

Brent was a tremendous help to me last year when he wasn’t coaching so I’m eager to see the improvements this year when he is coaching. Not only is it beneficial to myself but also for the team because I can pass on that knowledge to the other ladies.

Hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, Cecchini, who met Hawkins when he competed for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, is now a full-time Canadian. Along with Hawkins and their two children, they have built a new life in Regina.

As the proprietors of a training facility in Regina, this dynamic duo represents the spirit and determination that makes the LFL so unique. While the adjustment from Florida’s tropical weather to the harsh Prairie winters was a unique one, Cecchini reflects on it with humor,

“Well, we originally relocated for Brent’s football career in 2010 when he originally contracted to play for the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. Most people return home for the off-season but Regina has been so great to us we stay here year round and have made it our home.

It is obviously a huge climate change for me going from Florida to one of the coldest places in Canada but I’m learning to adapt…and layer! Eh?”